Warning: This review will contain spoilers.
Captivating. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I try to describe the experience that is GRIS, the debut puzzle platformer from independent developer Nomada Studio. The Steam page describes Gris as “a hopeful young girl lost in her own world, dealing with a painful experience in her life. Her journey through sorrow is manifested in her dress, which grants new abilities to better navigate her faded reality.” This concept really spoke to me, and admittedly it was an impulsive Steam purchase (someone told me about the game, I saw some screenshots, and then pulled out my credit card and bought it), though I in no way regret it. Now, let’s dive in.
From the moment I pressed “new game,” I was enthralled. The art of Conrad Roset is some of the most unique I’ve seen in a game thus far; those who dare to say video games aren’t art, I challenge you to play this game. I truly felt like I was progressing through an artistic experience. The game starts off in monochromatic red, but as you progress you unlock new colours which bring new light and beauty to the world you’re exploring. I’m at a loss for words, so here’s a visual summary of the game.
The first chapter of the game featured some interesting mechanics. I also met my first little friend, who was a small green block guy with an affinity for apples.
As someone who dabbles in art, I’m in love with the watercolour backgrounds.
The water chapter, in which Gris’s dress turns into a fish. One of the most entertaining sections, despite me struggling with the controls.
I’m not sure I can say much more other than “Wow”. This chapter brought new mechanics, puzzles, and experiences that got me thinking outside of the box.
Music & Sound
For a platformer game, the soundscape had a surprising amount of depth: little creatures squeaked and chirped, and the sound, while still there, was muted when Gris was underwater. The music itself was incredibly moving, matching both the pace of the game and the theme of each chapter. There were moments where I was almost in tears because I got caught up in the music.
Full disclosure: I haven’t played a puzzle platformer in years, so I hardly have an appropriate frame of reference. However, the game was mostly stress-free (admittedly, it took me a while to grasp the concept that I couldn’t die in the game) and the controls were easy to use. My only complaint was that controlling Gris in the water as a fish was a bit awkward. Special action buttons were self-explanatory, without any need for text. The puzzles were just the right amount of challenge for me, but I can see others finding them too easy. Others had estimated that it would be a 2 to 3 hour game, but I finished in 5. I saw no reason to rush it, and yes, there were times when I got stuck on certain puzzles.
Overall, this is an incredible game. I bought it looking for a beautiful and emotional experience and I got exactly that. GRIS has earned a 9/10 from me. You can find it on Steam here, and go give them some love on Twitter here.